REVELATION 14:8-20  


 

Verses 8-13 give us a general summary of some spiritual truths that are pertinent to the people on the earth after the rapture of the church.

Verse 8
The proclamation of the fall of the great “Babylonian” harlot

And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
 
Again, this is what happens in John’s vision. It is not what is going to be proclaimed on the earth when it actually happens. At this point in the chronology, the CITY that is called “Babylon the great” has NOT been destroyed. That event will not occur until just before (perhaps a few days) the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:19; 18:20-24; 19:1-4). This proclamation, then, should probably be viewed as anticipatory of the final judgment on that city that has influenced the world, politically, religiously and economically more than any other city over the last 2000 years.

There are two factors involved with the FALL of Babylon the great.
(1) The neutralization of Babylonian evil as it exists throughout the world at the time that the beast begins his reign. Although, in actuality, the beast simply perpetuates the essence of Babylonian evil through his own reign and Satan’s Messiah Strategy. However, THIS event is not in view by this proclamation.
(2) The actual physical destruction of the city that has been the organizational headquarters of Babylonian evil for the last 2000 years and will be at the time of the end – Rome.

Since the beast essentially TAKES OVER possession of the city when he neutralizes the ENTITY of Babylonian evil, there is no dramatic effect or subsequent response from the peoples of the earth as is seen at Rev. 18:9-11. This proclamation then is best viewed as anticipatory of the physical destruction of the city.

Thus, the chronology of chapter 14 is preserved. The beast’s confiscation of “Babylon” (Rome) will occur at the midpoint of the week, and that will occur PRIOR to the events of chapter 14. However, the physical destruction of the city will occur after the midpoint of the week, and after the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky. The anticipatory announcement of Babylon’s destruction is well-placed, as that destruction will occur through the reaping of verses 14-16, “in one day” (Rev. 18:8), and “in one hour” (Rev. 18:10).

It is certain that the term, “Babylon the great,” refers to the same entity that is in view at Chapter 17:2 and 18:3 since in each of the three verses the unifying factor is, drinking the wine of the passion of her immorality. Although it is the entity of Babylonian evil that has had the greatest influence on the world throughout history, it is the CITY that is the organizational headquarters and the SYMBOL of that influence. That city will still hold its symbolic sway over the world at the time that the world-ruler (man of lawlessness) comes on the scene. For the last 2000 years that entity has been the Roman Church and the city has been Rome. It alone of all religious entities fulfills the details of the language used to describe the Babylonian harlot.

The existence of any ONE city does not promote or hinder the influence of the beast when he begins his reign. But it is the existence of a religious influence that has indeed reached to the ends of the earth and affected every nation, both socially and politically that will hinder the advance of beast worship. In order for Satan to implement the next stage (The Messiah Strategy) of his personal salvation plan, he will have to first utilize this entity of international influence and power, and then neutralize it.

When the world ruler first comes on the scene of international politics, he will NEED the influence and power of the Babylon harlot in order to begin the Covenant Experiment. Thus, according to Revelation 17, the beast will “ride on the harlot” for the first 3 ½ years of The Covenant Experiment, and then after he terminates The Experiment at its mid-term point, he will destroy the religious entity that assisted him in advancing The Experiment.

It is at that point that Satan’s Messiah Strategy will be fully implemented, and beast worship will begin.

Although it is the beast and his associates who neutralize Babylon the harlot, it is actually engineered by God, Who uses the beast and his minions (Rev. 17:16-18) to carry out this judgment.

“And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire. For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God should be fulfilled.”

The language at verse 17:16 indicates that the beast and his allies will become intolerant of the Babylonian religious system of the harlot. Too much interference with the beast's agenda will create hatred and then action.

However, in order to neutralize the ENTITY, the organizational center will need to be “confiscated.” Thus, at the mid-point of the Covenant Experiment, the beast will confiscate the city and use it to promote Satan’s Messiah Strategy to the rest of the world. From the perspective of the last 2000 years, that city has been Rome, Italy.

In actuality, Satan’s Messiah Strategy is a perpetuation of Babylonian evil that started with the religion of Nimrod. Thus, Rome will remain the center of evil and the center of international economic prosperity, for apart from beast worship, “no one will be able to buy or sell” (Rev. 13:17).

The beast will use his control of Jerusalem to influence the Jews and Muslims, and his control of Rome to influence the rest of the world. It is the control of THIS city that thus effectively removes the influence and power that the “harlot” entity has over the “peoples and multitudes and nations and languages” (Rev. 17:15), and “over the kings of the earth” (Rev. 17:18).

However, the actual physical destruction of the city will not occur until just prior to the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 16:17-21; 18). It is at the 7th bowl judgment that a great earthquake will occur that will cause world-wide destruction described as the greatest earthquake EVER (Rev. 16:18). At this time “in one hour,” “the great city (Jerusalem) was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And Babylon the great was remembered before God to give her the cup of the wine of the passion of His anger.” Rev. 16:17.

At the 7th bowl judgment, there will still be TIME for human response to God’s wrath. There will be two responses. (1) “And men blasphemed God” (Rev. 16:21). (2) “And the kings of the earth will weep and lament . . . and the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn” (Rev. 18:9-11).

The TIMING of this destruction within the chronology of chapter 14 would be after the rapture and after the commission of the 144,000 Jewish bondservants. But since the proclamation is anticipatory, the destruction will not occur BEFORE the reaping judgment of verses 14-16. And since it will occur BEFORE the battle of Armageddon, it must be placed BEFORE verses 17-20. Thus, the destruction of “Babylon the great” will occur as part of the reaping judgment of verses 14-16, which will be administered by Jesus, the Son of man.

According to chapter 18:9-19, there will be TIME for the earth-dwellers to moan and lament over the destruction of this entity, which indicates to me that this does not occur in direct connection with Armageddon.

So this proclamation is anticipatory of the destruction that will happen in connection with the 7th bowl judgment, which is described at Revelation 16:19.  It will occur toward the end of the 30 day period that follows the 1260 days of the last half of the week, and appears to be one of the last items of judgment before the Armageddon campaign begins.

(1) The great city was split into 3 parts.
(2) The cities of the nations fell.
(3)
Babylon the Great was judged.
(4) Great earthquake.
(5) Huge hailstones.
(6) And then the descent of Jesus to the earth will occur at Rev. 19:11-21, at which time the Armageddon campaign will be completed by Jesus Himself.

The Armageddon campaign will have begun at the 6th trumpet judgment (Rev. 9:13-21), as the king of the North begins to move. And then at the 6th bowl judgment, the nations are influenced by demons to gather into the
land of Palestine for “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:12-16). The placement of this destruction of the city of Babylon some time prior to the actual defeat of the armies at Armageddon, allows for the period of mourning over the loss of such a valuable city.

This destruction is described at Revelation 18:1-19.
The command to “rejoice” at the destruction of this city is given in verse 20-24.
And the fulfillment of the command is given at verses 19:1-4.

THE DESTINY OF BEAST WORSHIPPERS
Rev. 14:9-12

1. Again, this is a proclamation made in heaven for John’s hearing within the context of his vision. It is not a warning proclaimed on the earth. But the fact that it is here recorded IN THE BOOK for mankind serves as a warning to them not only through the entire church age, but also during the end times. The focus here is on their final disposition in the lake of fire.

This embraces those who take the mark both BEFORE the arrival of Jesus AND after the arrival of Jesus - so the focus is on the FACT of taking the mark and does not break the chronology of the chapter
After the beast’s system is destroyed, what comes next?
Those who have the mark will be thrown into the fire.
BUT it is not at this point in the vision that they are thrown into the lake. This is just stating the FACT that it will happen.
The PROCESS of destroying the beast’s system is through TWO spheres of judgments.
(A) The trumpets
(B) The bowls

2. "and another (allos) angel (angellos), a third (tritos) followed them."

The reason THIRD is used is because two angels were already mentioned at verse 6 and 8. In fact, at verse 8, we have the same construction only with the word SECOND.
There is no definite article so it should not be, "and THE third angel."
Nor should it be "the angel, the third one."
Any translation that ignores the word, ALLOS (another) is erroneous.

SECONDLY, here are some more versions that may help:
NASB = and another angel, a third one
Amplified = Then another angel, a third
American Standard V = And another angel, a third
Darby's = and another, a third angel
RSV = And another angel, a third

3. THE CHOICE: If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand.
These details of beast worship were described in detail in chapter 13.

See Topic: Worshipping the beast

4. THE DESTINY:
Verse 10
A. He will drink of the wine: to indicate a complete identification with divine justice.
B. Of the wrath of God: The word, thumos (passion, anger), is used to indicate the very intense expression of divine justice against violation of God’s perfect righteousness.
Thumos is an advance on orgā, and intensifies it, giving it a more passionate or even EMOTIONAL expression.
C. Mixed in full strength:

1. which has been mixed: perfect passive participle of kerannumi. This indicates that the expression of God’s justice HAS ALREADY been determined by His perfect righteousness and absolute authority.
2. Full strength = unmixed: akratos indicates full alcoholic content. The idea then is that there is NO Restraint from God; no Release from judgment; and no Relief from intensity.
It is a full and uncompromising expression of divine justice.

D. In the cup of His anger: The word, orgā, is used to indicate the bona fide expression of divine displeasure when God’s truth and righteousness are violated.

5. THE LOCATION:
A. And he will be tormented: future passive indicative of
basanidzō. This indicates an actual experience of pain and discomfort.
B. With fire and brimstone: indicates a literal type fire, although a non-consuming one, so that the torment will be experienced in both soul and body. Unbelievers will be raised with a resurrection body in which they will be judged. John 5:28-29

C. In the presence of: enōpion - indicates observation and not immediate locality. 2Thes 1:9 says, “away from the face (prosōpon) of the Lord and from the power of His glory.”
D. His holy angels and the Lamb: These will not be PRESENT there, but be able to OBSERVE what is occurring. Apparently the saints will not take part in this "observation."

6. THE DURATION:
Verse 11
A. And the smoke: the visible sign of the fire. Although it does not consume, it produces smoke as indication of the effects it is producing.

B. Of their torment: basanismos
C. goes up: present active indicative of anabain
ō. The present tense indicates a continuous non-stop experience. The smoke apparently provides the basis for a visible observation by the angels.
D. Forever (TIME duration): unto ages of ages (eis + accusative plural of ai
ōn + genitive plural of aiōn). Cf. Heb. 1:8 for the extent of time involved (unto the age of the age, singular).

E. And they do not have: echō, present active indicative + negative to indicate once again the continuous non-stop experience.
F. Rest: anapausis = cessation, and in this case, the cessation of torment.
G. Day or night (CONSTANCY duration): a human expression that indicates a perpetual experience. This indicates the CONSTANT duration of the pain.


Verse 12
THE VICTORS

1. Here is the endurance of the saints:
The adverb, h
ōde is used here to indicate, “in this situation or under these circumstances.”
It applies to believers who live during any age or generation. The principle is CONSTANT. But the focus is specifically on those who endure the persecution pressure from the beast. There are two categories of saints who endure under the reign of the beast.
(A) Those who live during the tribulation – from the midpoint of the week until the tribulation is cut short by the sovereign decree of God the Father. At that time Jesus will arrive in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory and gather together (rapture) the saints out from the world.
(B) Those who become believers after the rapture, who will still come under persecution from the beast. That persecution will be less severe because of the Day of the Lord judgments coming upon the beast’s kingdom. But there will be some who die and will need to be resurrected after the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 20:4).

2. The word is hupomonā and it indicates successful Christian living in the face of various pressures; persecution, deprivation and temptation.
The following two expressions of faithfulness constitute the nature of endurance; the nature of successful Christian living.

3. Endurance is characterized by KEEPING the commandments of God and keeping THE FAITH of Jesus.

A. Those who keep the commandments of God: The commandments, refers to all that God has taught His people to be the right and proper behavior toward God, self and others (1 John 3:22-23). It is summed up in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles as LOVE. Romans 12:9-21 and 13:8-14.
B. And (those who keep) the faith of Jesus: The faith of Jesus refers to the whole realm of Christian truth as it has been revealed by the apostles in the gospels and in their letters.
The faith, is the definite article (the) with the noun pistis (faith) and the genitive of JESUS to indicate the content of FAITH-BASED doctrine that is belonging to and ABOUT Jesus. It implies faith IN those standards of truth, for that is the means by which the believer KEEPS them.
1. At Hebrews 13:9, it is summarized by the word, GRACE, “it is beneficial for the heart to be strengthened by grace.”
2. At 1 Timothy 6:3, it is summarized by, “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine conforming to good worship (godliness).”

In contrast to those who take the mark of the beast and worship his image, the FAITHFUL believer will follow truth during this time of great tribulation (pressure and persecution). This is not a salvation issue.
It is true that anyone who takes the mark will end up in the lake of fire for all eternity. However, based on the sovereign decision of God concerning the permanent salvation status of everyone who has believed in Jesus; and according to the doctrine of divine discipline, if a believe ever attempts to take the mark, it is certain that God will prevent it – and probably do so by bringing instant death on the erring believer.

See Topic:  Divine Discipline.

Verse 13
THE BLESSING OF THE POST-RAPTURE MARTYRS

Many of those who become believers after the rapture, and who remain faithful to God during the time remaining before Armageddon is completed, will be killed for their faith. These are seen to be recipients of a very special experience of happiness.

1. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, write: This seems to be in contrast to the angelic announcements that are made. John has heard “this” voice from heaven four previous times in His vision (V. 10:4, 8; 11:12; 14:2) and will hear it two additional times (V. 18:4; 21:3). It seems best to understand this as the voice of God the Father.

2. HAPPY: The adjective is makarios in the plural to describe the ones who are mentioned. It means happiness.

3. Those who die in the Lord from now on: This is clearly a blessing on Christians who are martyred at the hands of the beast and his minions during the time between the rapture and the defeat of the beast.

4. Yes, says the Spirit: There is a minor discrepancy in the manuscripts.
A. (legei) “Happy are those who die in the Lord from now on, says the Spirit, in order that . . .”
B. (nai, legei) “Happy are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, in order that . . .”

The reading “A” identifies the voice as that of the Spirit.
The reading “B” makes the Spirit someone different from the voice from heaven, who confirms the blessing made by that voice.

The manuscript evidence supports the presence of “yes” (nai) rather than its exclusion. The shorter reading LEGEI could be viewed as earlier and the other readings, simply scribal changes. But NAI, LEGEI is probably the original. It has the stronger support and follows the style seen elsewhere in the book of Revelation (1:7; 16:7; 22:20). Furthermore, there is no apparent reason for some scribe to add the “nai.”

5. In order that they may rest from their labors: The verb is anapauo, in the future tense. It indicates the cause of the blessing and the result of dying instead of going through more physical suffering.
The word, labors, refers to the practice of Christian faithfulness in the face of the extreme persecution suffering that comes from the beast.

The REAL issue in deliverance at this time is NOT rapture.
If it were, then the rapture would be the focus.
Instead, believers are delivered THROUGH DEATH because the persecution still continues after the rapture. The rapture has already occurred in the chronology (prior to the sealing of the 144,000 bond servants), so the HOPE of these believers is for deliverance and “blessing” through martyrdom so as NOT to remain alive for “more of the same” suffering, but rather go into the third heaven.
One could argue between the blessing of dying (and going into the third heaven) and of remaining alive and going “alive” into the earthly millennial kingdom. But the passage - for WHATEVER reason - is saying that death is better, or at least carries a very special blessing.

6. for their deeds follow them: However, those who will be martyred will be raised up as part of the first resurrection. They will join the rest of the body of Christ and will reign with Christ for 1000 years during His earthly kingdom. Revelation 20:4. This will be the reward for faithfulness.

Revelation 2:26; 3:21; 5:10

At Revelation 14:14-20 the earth is reaped in judgment.
First by Jesus “sitting on the cloud,” (where He "sits" until His physical descent at Rev. 19:11), and pouring out the final wrath of God via the 7 bowls. Perhaps the trumpet judgments should be included as well.
Second, by an angel who gathers the armies of the earth to the
Valley of Megiddo for their final defeat by Christ’s “physical” descent to Armageddon.


SUMMARY of the chapter:
1. Evangelism after the rapture via the 144,000 bond servants: verses 1-7.
2. Indictment on Babylonian religion: verse 8.
3. Indictment on beast worship: verses 9-12.
4. Martyrdom for faithfulness: verse 13.
5. Reaping of the earth through the bowl judgments: verses 14-16.
6. Gathering of the armies to Armageddon: verses 17-20.

And then chapter 15 and 16 pick up chronologically from Verse 11:19 and gives details for the 7 bowls of the final wrath of God.

THE DAY OF THE LORD JUDGMENTS
Verses 14-20

Verse 14-16
THE REAPING OF THE EARTH IN JUDGMENT

Verse 14
"And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in His hand."

Some think this is another angel and some think it is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. The issue of reaping is not affected one way or the other.

In support of this person being an angel, the commentary on Revelation from SOLA SCRIPTURA provides:

2. Sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man = identifies the rider of heaven’s unique transportation. One like a son of man is clearly reminiscent of Daniel 7:13. However, this is not Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus would hardly need an angelic exhortation to begin the earthly harvest (Rev 14:15). The one thing that can be dogmatically asserted is the fact that this is a unique heavenly being.

3. Having a golden crown on His head = is one indication of the uniqueness of this person. A golden crown is worn by the each of the twenty-four elders as mentioned in Revelation 4:4 and 10. Revelation 6:2 indicates that the rider on a white horse wears a golden crown. Revelation 9:7 depicts the locust cavalry wearing golden crowns. Golden crowns obviously depict authority and status.

4. A sharp sickle in His hand = is the second descriptive item enumerated by John. A sickle is an ancient instrument of the harvest. A sharp sickle suggests the beginning of the harvest with an instrument in prime condition.

http://www.revelationcommentary.org/14_chapter.html

In support of this person being Jesus, Walvoord writes:

“Though the one described is said to be like the Son of man, it is probably that this is none other than Christ Himself participating in the divine judgments of God upon a wicked world. This probability is reinforced by the golden crown speaking of His glorified state and His royal dignity.
THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, page 222-21.

I prefer to see this person as THE Son of Man (Jesus) for several reasons.
1. Every other time that an angel is mentioned in the book of The Revelation, it is clearly stated that it is in fact, an angel.
This would be an uncharacteristic exception.
2. In the Old Testament, the title, “son of man,” is indeed, used dozens of times for the prophet Ezekiel, once for Daniel, dozens of times for the progeny of man in general, and one time for the Messiah at His first advent ascension (Dan. 7:13). However, in the New Testament it is ALWAYS used to refer to Jesus.

3. This person is sitting ON a cloud. Angels are never seen in this manner.

I find it COMPELLING that we see Jesus SITTING on the cloud rather than COMING on the cloud.
The second coming always shows Jesus COMING in a cloud or clouds.
(Matt. 24:30; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:17; Rev. 1:7)
The idea of SITTING indicates what he is doing now that he has arrived.
After He arrives, he remains IN THE CLOUDS, and ON a cloud (He SITS DOWN to judge) as he pours out the trumpet and bowl judgments on the earth.

This of course agrees with the chronology that sees the 144k ALREADY saved and sealed at verses 1-5, which will occur AFTER the 6th seal arrival of Jesus and the rapture.

In answer to the argument that, “The Lord Jesus would hardly need an angelic exhortation to begin the earthly harvest (Rev 14:15),” I see no problem, and the concept of NEED, is not an issue. Such PLEAS for God to perform such and such an action are prevalent throughout the Psalms and elsewhere. Furthermore, I remind the reader that this is simply a vision of SYMBOLS shown to John. These symbols represent events that will certainly take place in the future, but the way these events are here portrayed will NOT necessarily occur in that exact manner. Jesus is not a lamb; Satan is not a dragon; there are no horses for the seals and there are no literal trumpets and bowls, etc. involved when the events actually occur in the future.

Accepting the view that this is in fact, Jesus, the crown, obviously portrays His past victory and his royalty. And the sharp sickle portrays the fact that He is prepared to express divine wrath as the Day of the Lord judgments begin with the trumpet judgments, or CONTINUE with the bowl judgments.

Verse 15
And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe."

1. This, “another angel” refers to the FOURTH one in this part of the vision.
The SOLA SCRIPTURA commentary suggests:

“1. And another angel came out of the temple = supports the conclusion that the rider on the white cloud is an angelic being. Another angel suggests a previous angel. The immediate context suggests that the rider is the focus. This angel’s job is to deliver a message.”

The mention of “another angel” does not at all support the conclusion suggested above. There is “another angel” at verse 6, but the nearest previous angel is the “strong” angel at verses 10:1, 5, 7 and 9. The SEVEN angels who have the bowls are in a separate category.
At verse 14:8, we see the second “another angel” and at verse 9, we see the third.
When we get to verse 15, the most normal understanding of “another angel” is that it is a fourth one and follows from number three. And At verse 18, there is still a fifth angel mentioned. There is no indication of any kind that the “one like a son of man” is an angel.

Further attempt to support the “angel” view from SOLA SCRIPTURA:

“2. Crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud = expresses the recipient of the angel’s message. Emerging from the temple, this angel undoubtedly is under the authority of God. The fact that an angel commands the cloud-rider to begin argues against the identity of the rider as the Lord Jesus. That the aspect of sitting on the cloud is emphasized suggests that the identity of the cloud-rider is not paramount. The Lord Jesus stated in Matthew 13:39 that "the reapers are angels" at the end of the age. This argues strongly that the identity of the rider is an angelic being.”

This is not proof at all. Jesus and God do many things through the agency of another; angels, man, and even a burning bush.
In fact, the gathering at the rapture as described at Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27, is accomplished by Jesus, but He USES the angels to do it.
(1) Matthew 24:31, “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect.”
(2) Mark 13:27, “And then He will send forth His angels and He will gather together His elect.”

Likewise at Matthew 13:39 the reapers at the end of the age are angels, but it is something that Jesus does by using the angels.
Another example is found at Revelation 17:16-17, where God USES the beast  to neutralize the Babylonian harlot.

THE PLEA OF THE ANGEL
”Put in your sickle and reap.”
This is not a COMMAND directed to Jesus, nor is it the granting of permission.
It is simply a plea for the Lord to begin His expression of wrath on a world that is RIPE for judgment. It is no different from the many pleas expressed by the Psalmist for God to bring judgment on the evil doers.
Walvoord writes: “It is remarkable that an angel should thus address the Son of man, but it should be regarded as an entreaty of a holy angel to Christ as the Son of man in His position as judge of men (cf. John 5:22, 27). Commentary, page 221.

It is even probable that the PLEA given at Joel 3:13 is directed to God.
"Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great."

Of course, the use of a sickle is symbolic. When the actual event takes place in the future, Jesus will not be wielding a sickle to reap the wicked from the earth.

THE HOUR TO REAP
The use of the word, “hour” is simply to indicate that it is now TIME.
At Rev. 11:18, we are told that “the time came . . . to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
At Rev. 14:7, the urgency of the gospel message is “because the hour of His judgment has come.” That means that it is here and upon us. This is expressed after the salvation and sealing of the 144,000 bond servants of God, and refers to the bowl judgments. Although, it is possible that both trumpet and bowl judgments are in view with this reaping of the earth in judgment.
Then at Rev. 15:1 and 5-8, preparation is made for the final outpouring of God’s wrath.

REAPING
At Jeremiah 51:33 the evil of Babylon will be harvested.
”For thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel;
The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor
At the time it is stamped firm;
Yet in a little while the time of harvest will come for her.”

Likewise at Joel 3:13, the RIPE harvest  refers to the advance of wickedness on the earth.
The SOLA SCRIPTURA commentary reads:

“4. Because the harvest of the earth is ripe = explains why the time of harvest
begins at this point. A ripe earth continues the metaphor of the wheat harvest. Literally, wickedness has run its course and demands punishment. As indicated in Joel 3:13, wickedness overflows.”

The word for RIPE is the verb, xzāraino. It is used several times in the Old Testament, and 13 times in the New Testament in a negative sense. The only time it is used for something good, is when an open and bleeding abscess was cured and DRIED up (Mark 5:29).
This word does not speak of a GOOD crop that is ready to be harvested. It refers to a crop that is OVER-RIPE and OVER-DUE for removal – judgment. For those who think that a “ripe” field of wheat is a good thing in this context, just compare it with the RIPE grapes at verse 18, which are clearly SO ripe that it is time for them to be judged. A different word is used there for “ripe” but the image is still that of being ripe for judgment.

Walvoord writes: “The expression, ‘the harvest of the earth is ripe’ (Gr., exeranthe), meaning ‘to become dry or withered,’ has a bad connotation (cf. Matt. 21:19-20; Mark 3:1, 3; 11:20; Luke 8:6; Rev. 16:12). The picture here is of a fruit or vegetable that has become so ripe that it has begun to dry up and wither. The rotten moral condition of the world is dealt with now with a sharp sickle.” Commentary, page 221.

James Moffett writes: “The classical use of reaping to symbolize death and destruction is too common to need illustration. . . . but this ripeness of paganism for judgment (Jer. 51:33) is re-stated dramatically (17-20) in a parallel O.T. symbol from the wine-press.”
Expositor’s Greek New Testament, volume 5, page 441.

Some have suggested that verses 14:15-16 refers to a “reaping” of believers out from the earth via the rapture.

Alford writes: “The verdict of Commentators is very much divided. There are circumstances in the context which tell both ways. The parallelism with the vintage which follows, seems to favour a harvest of the wicked;: but then on the other hand, if so, what is the distinction between the two ingatherings? . . . On the whole then, though I would not pronounce decidedly, I must incline to think that the harvest is the ingathering of the saints, God’s harvest, reaped from the earth: described here thus generally, before the vintage of wrath which follows.”
The Greek New Testament, Volume 4, page 690.

Walvoord concludes: “There is no distinct event in this sequence of prophecies which clearly presents a harvest of saints, and it is probably preferable to consider the first harvest as the judgments in general which characterize the period and the second harvest is the final climactic one.”
Commentary, page 222.

However, if chapter 14 begins with the 144,000 Jewish converts, which takes place AFTER the rapture, how then can verses 15-16 refer to the rapture when it appears that the events outlined in the chapter are chronological?
And if someone does not want to take the events as chronological, then an alternate explanation is needed. To date, I have not encountered any explanations that adequately deal with what I see to be a very clear chronological progression in the chapter. But then, I insist that the trumpets FOLLOW the seals and indeed come out from the 7th seal, and that the bowls come out from the 7th trumpet - and others insist on making these things “overlap.” So, in like manner, it is just as likely that some people will see a different chronological progression in other portions of scripture. As always, each one must become convinced in his own mind as to what is the most “reasonable” (for this is indeed, all that we have) and harmonious understanding of all the passages involved.


THE CHRONOLOGY ISSUE
If there is a chronological order to the events in Revelation 14, then the reaping at verses 14-19 CANNOT refer to the rapture. So if that chronological issue can be resolved then the interpretation of the first reaping is solved.
However, if the chronological issue cannot be solved, this STILL does not resolve the interpretation of the first reaping.

AN UNRESOLVED CHRONOLOGY
Technically, it does not matter whether the chapter is chronological or not. But if it is NOT then the "items" mentioned have no set parameters and can refer to anything we choose (within reason of course).
However, if one operates on the idea that there is an inherent chronology within the chapter, then there are parameters which help us understand what each event is.

Some believe that the chronological order is (1) sealing and then (2) rapture. They suggest that the 144,000 are saved prior to the rapture and sealed prior to the rapture, but stay behind because of their bondservant ministry that God has planned for them.

However, this view is untenable in view of several factors found in the Scriptures.
It should be clear that WHEN the Lord descends from heaven on the clouds with power and great glory, at that very instant, the gathering of the saints occurs.

SALVATION OF THE BONDSERVANTS

After the arrival of Jesus at the 6th seal, we are shown two results that are recorded in Revelation chapter 7.
The first result is ON EARTH, and is recorded in verses 1-8. It is the conversion and sealing of 144,000 Jews who will trust in Christ shortly after He returns and gathers out (raptures) the believers.
The second result, recorded in verses 9-17, is IN HEAVEN, and is the PRESENCE of the raptured believers standing before God on the sea of glass.

The 144 thousand are saved AFTER the ARRIVAL and after the RAPTURE.
It is at that time of salvation that they become bondservants.
If they were saved before the arrival, then they would be OF THE CHURCH and would be raptured along with all the other saints. However, they are viewed as FIRST FRUIT converts at Rev. 14:1-4, and that would have to mean first fruits of the day of the Lord. And that requires a conversion AFTER Jesus arrives in the clouds of the sky in power and great glory.

If one wants to view the SEAL as a mark of ownership BEFORE they are saved that occurs before the rapture, this is not consistent with the rest of Scripture. The seal is the Holy Spirit, whose presence in the soul of the believer marks that believer out as purchased and owned by God (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:19a; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). And there is no clear teaching that this ministry of the Holy Spirit would CEASE after the rapture. There is no violation of any dispensational distinctions between pre and post rapture believers for the sealing ministry of the Spirit to be the same in both cases. Both groups partake of the same first resurrection and will reign together with Christ for 1000 years.
Rev. 5:10; 20:4-6.

Those who hold to the view that the 144k are sealed before the rapture, do so because of the ORDER given to us in Revelation 7. However, the order is NOT an order of OCCURRENCE, but an order of FOCUS.
At Revelation 7:9ff, we are not shown the EVENT of the rapture; we are shown the RESULT of the rapture. The language does not have John SEEING the multitude arrive, but seeing them ALREADY IN HEAVEN. The rapture occurs IN CONNECTION with Rev. 6:14-15. These unbelievers can not make the confession that is made in verses 16-17 UNLESS they have seen the Lord’s arrival, which is exactly what they see as recorded at Mat. 24:29-30. “And they will SEE The Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” And, as already established, the rapture occurs IMMEDIATELY upon the arrival of Jesus.

They likewise suggest that the order at Revelation 14 is (1) sealing and salvation of the 144,000 bond servants. (2) then the rapture through the wheat harvest. And (3) then the judgment of the grape harvest, and (4) then the presence of the raptured church in heaven at Revelation 15:2-4.

The "reaping" of verses 14-16 does not HAVE to refer to the rapture.
If it did NOT refer to the rapture, nothing else would really be affected would it?

If it DOES refer to the rapture, then only my chronology of the chapter breaks down; nothing else.
However, my chronology is not of concern to me. It is a comparing of scripture with scripture which would "allow" me to SEE rapture at Rev. 14.

Verse 16
And He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth; and the earth was reaped.

The judgments begin. This could refer to both the trumpet and bowl judgments, or just anticipatory of the bowl judgments.
 
The INITIAL “normal” read of this is that JUDGMENT is in view.
Especially, since nothing yet has caused me to see anything in this chapter as happening BEFORE the arrival of Jesus.
That is because verses 1-5 already set the NORMATIVE understanding.
That is, the 144k have already been saved so this is following the 6th seal arrival of Jesus.
THE SECOND harvesting is certainly Armageddon.
It is RESTRICTIVE to that time when the armies will be gathered and judged. The image of lots and lots of blood compared to the height of the bridles on the horses relates this to a BATTLE SCENE.
 
Verses 17-20
THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON

Verse 17
And another angel: This is angel #five. He has a sharp sickle as well. But this time the sickle is for the fruit of the vine; the clusters of grapes that are also RIPE for judgment. The verb is akmadzo as an aorist active indicative which indicates that they have BECOME ripe.

Verse 18
1. And another angel: This is angel #6 who brings the instructions to angel #5.
2. power over fire: There seems to be no FIRE involved in this judgment at Armageddon, so the image is that of bringing God’s JUSTICE to those who are ripe for judgment.
3. He came out from the altar: At Revelation 8:5, there is an angel who takes FIRE from the altar, and throws it to the earth to indicate the justice of God that will be expressed through the trumpet judgments.
Angel #6 could very well be the same angel of the 7th seal who seems to also have power over the fire of the altar.

4. The instructions are clear enough. Gather the clusters of grapes from the vine of the earth. At verse 19 we learn that the grapes are to be crushed by the justice of God as an expression of His divine wrath.

5. because her grapes are ripe: In a normal grape harvest, the grapes would be ripe and ready to be thrown into the wine press in order to produce wine.
In this case, the wine press is an instrument of judgment so the grapes that are ripe, are ripe for judgment.


Verse 19 THE GREAT WINE PRESS OF THE WRATH OF GOD.
1. The angel swung the sickle . . . and gathered . . . and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God.
Is this the ACT of the angel or just the symbolism within John’s vision?
At Revelation 16:12-16, the 6th bowl judgment, demons are used to gather the kings of the nations to Armageddon.
At Revelation 19:15, those same kings of the earth are assembled at one location to make war against Jesus, and the judgment against them is called “He treads the wine press of the passionate anger of the wrath of God” (the thumos of the orgā of God).

There are some who suggest that this battle is different from what is described in Revelation 19. It is suggested that this "great wine press" battle occurs right after the Day of the Lord begins, and is the battle described at Joel 3:9-17. It is further suggested that this battle is one of three that are described in Ezekiel 38-39. This issue will be dealt with in a separate article, but the normal understanding that comes from comparing the pertinent passages is that the NEAR comparison provides the right interpretation and that is, that Rev. 14:19-20 and 19:15f represent the one and the same event, which is Armageddon.

2. At verse 20, we have information about this WAR that is not recorded elsewhere. A symbol of the killing of thousands and thousands of armies is shown as blood rising to the height of the horses’ bridles. Surely this is symbolic and not to be taken literally. It is quite impossible for such a RIVER of blood to truly happen. Liquid would naturally flow to the lowest point in the geography. Some have suggested that this refers to the blood SPLATTERING to that height. While the language does not DENY that possibility, I think it should still be taken as symbolic of the slaying of the armies by the simple verbal proclamation of Jesus (the sword from His mouth). It is a physical killing of these armies for there is no other reason to tell us that the flesh of these people would be eaten by the bird scavengers. This of course, would be a natural occurrence if such a massive destruction of people were to happen.

Another factor that relates to this is that the image of men and horses is also symbolic. This image of warfare will not be the medium that is involved at the battle. This is the image that would naturally be employed from the perspective of the time of writing. This symbolism should likewise be the understanding of the "horses" and "riders" that are pictured at Zechariah 12:4, and the "horses" that are pictured at Revelation 19:18.
In actuality, this will involve MODERN mediums of warfare, and the images shown to us in the pertinent visions are symbols of that warfare.

The interpretation that this language refers to a literal river or rivers of blood mixed with water (rainfall) is an inadequate attempt to find a LITERAL understanding. This idea is presented by Mo Dardinger in her "The Great Winepress is not Armageddon, pages 28-29.
There is no "violence to the scripture" done by taking this description as symbolic. The Bible uses images of the time in which it was written to communicate massive destruction in a warfare setting. When the time actually comes for this war to take place, it will involve modern weaponry and transportation; not horses and chariots.


3. The 1600 furlongs is close to 200 miles, and could be simply a round number. Alford thinks the distance is symbolic “as the
Holy land is actually only 160 miles North and South,” (Walvoord’s Commentary, page 223). However, 160 miles is close enough to 200 that it is reasonable to see it as a general description of the distance involved. Walvoord describes it as “a 200 mile radius from Jerusalem.”

However, since Palestine is about 180 kilometers wide, and that translates into about 111 miles, a 50 mile radius within the general Jerusalem area is a very reasonable interpretation for the “distance of 200 miles.”

The chapter ends then with the final outpouring of God’s wrath at the end of the 1290 days of Daniel 12:11, which is 30 days after the end of the 70th week.

In between the gathering of the nations to the valley of Megiddo (bowl #6) and the actual confrontation at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21), the 7th bowl judgment of Revelation 16:17-21 will occur which brings a physical judgment on (1) (the great city,” which is Jerusalem; and (2)the cities of the nations;” and (3) “Babylon the great.”

After the summary of the final wrath of God described at the end of chapter 14, the vision presents John with the preparation for and the execution of the 7 bowl judgments in chapter 15 and 16.

 
 
 

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